I remember their wedding day. She was wearing an A-line peach wedding gown. The wedding was a simple gathering of close friends and family. She was trying to curtail the flow of her tears, when for the first time I noticed her ring. It was a perfect ring for the perfect day. A large black solitaire dazzling through her delicate long fingers. For a week, we heard stories of the ring and how happy it made her.
“It reminds me of him every time I look at the ring. It’s a metaphor of our love which I wear as a jewel. But it’s clearly more than a piece of jewellery for me. It defines our marriage, which started with the simple wedding.”
It’s been three years since their wedding. She still carries that ring in her heart and on her finger. Today, for the past ten minutes she was tossing the ring on and off her finger. I knew there was something disturbing her. After a few minutes, I couldn’t resist asking her if everything was fine in her married life. “I know something is bothering you. Aren’t you guys happy? Is your marriage in trouble?”
She replied that everything was going smoothly in her marriage.
I insisted and finally she spoke, “My husband is a kind and humble man. He loves me as on the first day. I wonder if all men can be the same.” She told me that there’s a colleague who works in a different department of our institute. They became instant friends after their first introduction at a workshop. I knew whom she meant. I’ve often seen her with him in the cafeteria.
“What about him?”
She replied, “It’s been more than a year now, since we became acquainted. He knows me very well from inside out. Initially I thought it was just his jolly nature but now it’s getting overwhelming these days.”
I interjected, “What is getting overwhelming?”
“His flirting and constant approach,” she answered. “He knows how much I love my husband and how I feel uncomfortable with other men flirting and passing comments on me. Yet he never retreats from his approach.”
I asked, “Why haven’t you ever told him bluntly?”
She said, “He is a senior fellow and most reputed in the institute. I genuinely respect him for his work and capabilities. I dare not say anything to hurt his reputation. I once tried to hint that I have utter dislike for flirting, be it healthy or otherwise. I’ve told him several times how I love my husband and the ring which is a constant reminder of his adulation. But he never ceases to follow me.”
“Did you ever enjoy it? Maybe it’s just healthy flirting?” I asked.
She looked aghast.
“Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of attention? I never knew that a little attention would turn into lethal attraction. Initially, I took it as healthy flirting only. Until once I invited him home for dinner.”
“You invited, what!” I reacted.
“Yes, once I invited him for dinner. He was very cordial and formal that night. He talked with my husband as if he is just a person from my workplace. I’d never seen him so sophisticated before. All that time he stood at least a few feet away from me. He chose a chair on the opposite end of the dining table instead of snuggling besides me as he always has done in the cafeteria. My husband was very impressed with his behaviour and respect towards the boss and women colleagues. That night I realised, that he is way different with me when we are at work. He cracks silly jokes which sometimes are vulgar and mean. I knew then, it’s not a healthy flirt anymore.”
“Should we report him to human resources?” I asked.
“No! That would sabotage my image and maybe my married life,” she replied.
“So what do you have in mind? Are you going to avoid him?” I asked.
“I’ve changed the screensaver of my cell phone to a picture of my husband. I will keep the screensaver mode on whenever we sit down to talk. Maybe that will restrain him,” she said.
“A screensaver? How do you think that would be helpful, when the ring could not do the magic?” I frowned.
“You never know. Sometimes men are just men. They neglect the importance of the ring and think it’s just jewellery. Maybe a stupid gadget screensaver can save my peace,” she shrugged.